Vastavam web: Defending champion Roger Federer reached the Australian Open third round for a 20th straight year Wednesday but was made to battle hard by Britain’s Dan Evans before winning 7-6 (7/5) 7-6 (7/3) 6-3. The ageless 20-time Grand Slam champion, who is gunning for a record seventh Melbourne Park title and third in a row, had breezed past Denis Istomin in the first round, but was given a much tougher examination by the world number 189. “I think if I could have pulled away early in the match it might have been different,” said the 37-year-old Swiss master who needed 2hr 35min to get past his 28-year-old opponent.
It was harsh on Evans who had committed only two unforced errors and constantly put the third seed under pressure with his scampering, attacking game and flurry of winners off both wings. The plucky Evans, who had covered acres of ground and found the lines brilliantly, needed treatment for blisters on both feet before the second set started and immediately was broken. But he refused to lie down and broke back as Federer served for the set to force another tie-break. “I thought I might have pulled away midway through the second set,” added Federer.
Holding break point at 2-1, he barely scooped up a half-volley which grabbed the net cord and toppled over forcing Evans to go long. A service game to love followed to put Federer 4-1 up and the brave resistance of Evans was finally broken.